Why We Teach Music in Elementary School

The music curriculum in a Waldorf School is in harmony with Rudolf Steiner’s view of child development. Beginning in the early childhood classrooms, we find the hauntingly beautiful pentatonic or 5-note-scale songs that do not fully center on a dominant tone. The pentatonic scale is found in nearly all world cultures including Native American, most Asian cultures, and in Ancient Greece, where Pythagoras based his “harmony of the spheres” on the five planets.
Children start to play a stringed instrument, usually the violin, in the third grade.
The fourth graders continue their study of music notation, with the main lesson block on fractions nicely complementing the learning of the time signatures. Various meters are experienced and studied. By the end of the year, the children should be able to sight-read simple melodies, both vocally and instrumentally.
Children sing and play music daily during their Main Lessons, in their class plays, in special subject classes such as Spanish and Mandarin, and during class celebrations for birthdays and world holidays.
Music is the glue that holds the spirit of the school together and, like the relationship of music to the human body, it is essential. It is this firmly held belief regarding the importance of music to each child’s development that sets Waldorf Schools apart from our counterparts in other institutions.